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Selling to the Public Sector – helping Leicestershire SMEs unlock their potential. Bob Moodie & Vicky Byers NJM European, Economic & Management Consultants Ltd. Public Sector Contracts: Writing Winning Bids. Writing Winning Bids. Introduction First Steps - Opportunity Identification

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bob moodie vicky byers njm european economic management consultants ltd

Selling to the Public Sector – helping Leicestershire SMEs unlock their potential

Bob Moodie & Vicky Byers NJM European, Economic & Management Consultants Ltd

Public Sector Contracts:

Writing Winning Bids

writing winning bids
Writing Winning Bids
  • Introduction
  • First Steps - Opportunity Identification
  • Developing a Strategic Approach to bidding
  • Pre-Qualification Questionnaires
  • Invitations To Tender
  • Do’s & Don’ts & Avoiding a Poor Score
  • Tender Presentations
opportunities public sector
Opportunities: Public Sector
  • UK Public procurement is estimated at over £175 billion per annum (13% of UK GDP).
  • Leicestershire County Council spends over £300 million each year on goods, works and services. From 2011-12 to 2014-15, the Council will need to make savings of around £82m, including £22m from commissioning and procurement.
  • Leicester City Council’s estimated procurement budget for the Authority was £260 million p.a. (2007-2008). From 2011-12 to 2014-15, the Council will need to make savings of around £100m from its total annual budget of circa £1bn.
  • NHS Leicestershire & Rutland Procurement Partnership influences spend of approximately £250 million on goods and services each year.
opportunities public se ct or
Opportunities: Public Sector

9 Local Authorities:

    • Leicestershire County Council
    • Leicester City Council
    • North West Leicestershire District Council
    • Charnwood Borough Council
    • Melton Borough Council
    • Blaby District Council
    • Harborough District Council
    • Oadby & Wigston Borough Council
    • Hinckley & Bosworth District Council
  • 3 Universities: Leicester, Loughborough, De Montfort
  • 7 FE colleges: Stephenson, Loughborough, Brooksby Melton, North Warwickshire & Hinckley, South Leicestershire, Leicester, Loughborough University School of Art & Design
  • Schools


  • NHS (subject to major review)
  • Housing Associations / RSLs
  • The Emergency Services
finding opportunities
Finding Opportunities
  • Where should you look / who should you know?
be systematic get organised1
Be Systematic & Get Organised
  • What is your target market?
  • In your target market who are the key buyers - Personnel at Department level and Procurement Officers (important for low value contracts that are not formally advertised)?
  • Engage procurement personnel - make sure they know you exist, seed ideas
  • Find out about approved (accredited) supplier lists however note that authorities are moving towards framework agreements
  • Register your details on tender e-portals and set up for Alerts service, newsletters etc
be systematic get organised2
Be Systematic & Get Organised
  • Set up internal processes and individual(s) to monitor tender portals, alerts, sources and review feedback
  • Network (buyers/commissioners, meet the buyer events)
  • Competitor analysis (New Transparency:£500+invoices)
  • Search for potential business partners / collaborators / subcontractors
  • Develop / improve your key policies so that you comply with public sector tender competition requirements
  • Accreditation (e.g. CHAS, ISO, IiP etc)
a new and critical source of intelligence
A new and critical source of intelligence
  • As part of Coalition Government commitment to transparency in public expenditure (as of February 2011) every Local Authority must publish details of invoices of £500+
  • Information can be used to identify competitors and/or potential collaborators/subcontract opportunities
strategic decision making
Strategic Decision Making
  • Is the tender a good fit in relation to your company’s activities?
  • Can you meet the eligibility criteria (technical qualifications, policy compliance e.g. Quality Assurance, Insurance) ?
  • Do you have a good track record in relation to the opportunity?
  • Do you have the trading history (e.g. 2 years Accounts)?
  • Do you have the capability and capacity to deliver the contract if successful?
  • Can you make sense of the budget and can you deliver the contract on time?
strategic decision making1
Strategic Decision Making
  • What are the risks?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What percentage of your turnover does the contract represent?
  • Do you need a partner(s) or will you use subcontractors?
  • What is the percentage chance of success?
  • Do you have the time and resources to devote to preparing a good bid?
strategic decision making2
Strategic Decision Making

Solo or Collaborative Bidding?

  • Form a consortium if:
    • You don’t have the capability or capacity
    • You can’t meet the 20% rule
  • Options:
    • Consortium
      • Joint Bidding
      • Lead Contractor & Subcontractor
  • Legal basics – will you be jointly and severally liable?
  • Memorandum of understanding (MoU) / Partnership agreement / (Non Disclosure agreement (NDA); Agreement not to compete in other tender)
  • Service level agreement (SLA)/contract
  • NB. consortium should be properly led, constructed and managed
procurement process overview
Procurement Process Overview


Contract Notice









pre qualification questionnaires
Pre-Qualification Questionnaires

The First Hurdle

  • Evaluation of your organisation
    • The aim of the PQQ is to check that your company is (for the contract term)
      • Technically competent
      • Financially sound
      • Legally compliant
    • Gives the buyer a means of short-listing interested organisations on the basis of fair and objective criteria
pqq information
PQQ Information

General Business Information

  • Business Details
  • Status (Sole contractor / consortium)
  • Ownership
  • Business Probity
  • Professional Conduct

Documentation required may include:

  • Company History
  • HR Information
  • Administrative Information (Company Registration/VAT Number)
  • Quality Standards Accreditation / Certificates
pqq information1
PQQ Information

Financial & Insurance Information:

  • Turnover
  • Accounts
  • Insurance

Documentation Required may include:

    • Audited accounts, Management accounts, Parent company accounts
    • Bankers statements & accountants’ references
    • Financial projections, including cashflow forecasts
    • Details of previous contracts and values
    • Capital availability
    • Certification of Incorporation, Certificate of Name Change
    • Insurance Certificates

NB financial vetting is based on sound business judgement and not just the application of financial formulae

pqq information2
PQQ Information

General Business Activities

  • Overview of Existing Business Activities
  • Overview of Main Areas of Expertise & Accreditation
  • What percentage of your business is concerned with providing services similar to the contract requirement
  • HR Information (Number of Staff, Staff Profiles)

Contract Specification

  • Explain and demonstrate your Capability and Capacity to fulfil the contract requirement
  • Case Studies (relevant to contract specification and demonstrating your ability to fulfil the size, scope and complexity of this contract)
  • Subcontractors
  • Relevant References (norm = 3 recent referees) & contact details
pqq information3
PQQ Information

Essential Policies:

  • Quality Management
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Health & Safety
  • Environment Management & Sustainability

Why are they necessary?

      • They are a legal requirement
      • They are a purchaser requirement
      • They help articulate the company’s values and principles for both staff and clients
      • They bring business benefits and are relevant to contract delivery
health safety equality diversity environment policies
Health & Safety, Equality & Diversity & Environment Policies

Can you articulate the business benefits of these policies as they may relate to the conduct of the contract?

accentuate the positive
♪♫♪ Accentuate the Positive ♪♫♪

Do you have a Health & Safety Policy?

Weak Answer:

  • “Yes, see Appendix 1”

Good Answer:

  • “The Health & Safety of our staff and customers is a vital part of the company’s quality process. We operate a comprehensive Health & Safety Policy (see Appendix 1) covering all aspects of our products (services) and operations and it is reviewed biannually.”
  • For an SME employing less than 5 people: “Although we are not required legally to have a Health & Safety Policy, we take this matter very seriously and have adopted a Health & Safety Policy in the interests of our staff and clients (see Appendix 1)”
accentuate the positive1
♪♫♪ Accentuate the Positive ♪♫♪

What Quality Assurance arrangements does your company operate? If no accreditation is held please explain why not and what alternative steps you take to ensure quality at work?

Weak Answer:

  • “We operate our own quality system. We have determined that formal accreditation is inappropriate to our company’s needs. Complaints are the responsibility of the Managing Director.”

Good Answer:

  • “We regard quality as a vitally important part of our business activity and we operate a comprehensive and strict internal quality assurance process covering all aspects of our business activity (details can be found in Appendix 2). We are committed to a process of continuous improvement and we are in the process of applying for ISO 9001 (we expect to be assessed in May of this year)”
business continuity
Business Continuity
  • What is your Approach to Risk Management in terms of Business Continuity?
  • Do you have a formal Business Continuity Management Programme? If YES, enclose a copy of your plan/programme document
  • Within the last 3 years have there been any occasions when you business operation has been disrupted?
    • If YES what were the circumstances and what was the effect upon your customers?
  • Do you have a strategy for ensuring continuity of supply from your critical suppliers?
avoiding a poor score
Avoiding a Poor Score

Common reasons for a poor score:

  • Failure to follow the instructions
  • Writing by committee, no narrative flow and lack of control/ownership
  • Incomplete or missing answers/sections
  • Supporting documentation incomplete
  • Repeating answers or referring to ‘see above’ (questions are rarely repeated)
  • Over emphasising what you sell, rather than what they are looking to buy
  • Recycling old tenders ‘Cutting & pasting’!
  • Providing response on general capability instead as opposed to specific contract requirements
invitation to tender itt
Invitation To Tender (ITT)

The Second Hurdle

  • Evaluation of your detailed proposal
    • What are you going to do
    • How are you going to do it
    • Who is going to do it
    • How much will it cost
    • What is your track record / prior experience
    • Compliance
    • References
itt information
ITT Information

Invitation to Tender (ITT) pack will include:

  • Instructions to Tenderers
  • Introduction from buyer who will set out the vision
  • The Specification
  • The Evaluation Criteria & Relative Weighting
  • Form of Tender
  • Draft Contract Terms and Conditions
  • Declarations / Bona Fide
  • Pricing Schedule
preparing the tender
Preparing the Tender

Managing the preparation of your bid

  • Get your team together, appoint a bid manager and conduct detailed review and interpretation of tender requirements.
  • Determine whether you require clarification of any aspect of the tender and ask the question(s) allowing enough time for a response.
  • Check regularly to see if any questions/answers have been submitted by competitors. Be aware that any question you ask will be notified to other suppliers)
  • Prepare work plan & allocation of roles/tasks/milestones with reference to tender & submission deadline.
    • NB: Build in time to review, refine and style bid
preparing the tender1
Preparing the Tender

Tender Design: What is the Buyer looking for?

  • Design a clearly structured tender response aligned against each tender requirement and criteria (e.g. core, gateway and specific). Ensure compliance!
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the brief (i.e. the challenges are understood and addressed)
  • Methodology: clearly show who (CVs) does what, why, when, how and benefits from buyer’s perspective – illustrate with diagram (Gantt)
  • Identify and demonstrate clearly your capability and the innovation of your offer (USP) - can your offer exceed the contract requirements and provide additional benefits, outcomes?
  • Contract management and communication (i.e. how you interface with the client to monitor project)
preparing the tender2
Preparing the Tender

Standing Out from the Crowd

  • Have you articulated ‘Why choose us?’
  • Have you fully defined the key features, quality and benefits of your approach?
  • Have you used and made the most of recent and relevant case studies to illustrate your track record?
  • Have you gone the extra mile in manifesting your understanding of the brief and the design of your solution?
  • Conduct a mock assessment against the evaluation criteria and relative weighting
  • Presentation
case studies example structure
Case Studies: Example Structure
  • Client Name & Contract Title
  • Work of same/similar nature, scope and scale
  • What, When and How you did it
  • Client Benefit (Outputs & Outcomes)
  • Innovation & Added Value
  • Contract Value/Price
  • Reference confirming work was performed to client satisfaction and to schedule

NB Be concise and relevant

preparing the tender costing your proposal
Preparing the Tender:Costing Your Proposal
  • Follow Instructions in Tender re presentation of costs/fees/prices
    • For services: Charging Rate(s) (Daily/Hourly) & Time & Personnel
  • Fixed Cost / Variable Cost
  • Expenses & Disbursements
  • Contingency
  • VAT
  • Innovative Cost Proposals
    • Discounted Cost e.g. 5% early payment, economies of scale and efficiency savings linked to contract term and/or number of contracts (Lots) awarded
    • Buyer comfort: Offer 10% Contract Price Withheld until completion
  • As a local company, how might you emphasise that you have a number of advantages?
exercise answers
Exercise: Answers

Wrong Answer:

  • The Council should give contracts to local companies as a matter of course, because it retains profit in the area and improves local employment levels.

Right answers:

  • Close proximity to client : Allows customers to change their requirements at short notice
  • Local knowledge: Specialised knowledge of local issues or local communities
  • Fast response time, leading to better and more flexible service
  • Improved environmental impact of shorter travel distance; potential economies of expenses
  • Similar demographic profile of service deliverers to service users
preparing the tender bid writing
Preparing the Tender:Bid Writing

Language & Style:

  • Write in plain English: short sentences and paragraphs;
  • Avoid jargon and unexplained abbreviations
  • Use ‘active’ verbs, refer to ‘we’ and ‘you’
  • In your response try to reflect key wording as found in the tender specification
  • Punctuation and spelling really matter
  • Lay-out: Use clear headings aligned to tender specification; standardise fonts, illustrate where possible

Aim for clarity, brevity, readability and persuasion

preparing the tender do s don ts
Preparing the Tender:Do’s & Don’ts
  • Do not attempt to find an “inside track” (canvassing)
  • Respond by the correct date + time (electronic, electronic + post, post?) avoid last minute submissions
  • Ensure the submission is complete AND signed including copies of requested documentation, e.g. insurance certificates, policies, audited accounts etc
  • Use tender envelope/label if provided and check if there is a tender reference
  • Look carefully at the evaluation criteria, scores and “weighting”. This should influence time and effort in preparation of answers
tender presentation
Tender Presentation
  • Review and familiarise yourself witt the ITT and the Tender you submitted
  • Has anything changed since the Tender was submitted which you believe:
    • Impacts the Tender Specification
    • Affects your capability and capacity
    • Allows you to bring additional value
  • Anticipate and prepare responses to likely ‘difficult’ questions
  • Take copies of your tender with you as the tender panel may wish to question you on specific elements
  • Select Presenter(s)
  • Rehearse
tender presenta tion
Tender Presentation
  • Keep message clear and precise: don’t try to cover too much ground and be interesting
  • Communicate understanding of the tender brief (don’t stray)
  • Keep presentation simple
  • Illustrate presentation where possible
  • If using power-point features: practice & BEWARE Animations
  • Purchasing organisations prefer to meet (at the presentation) members of team who will be performing the work
concluding remarks
Concluding Remarks
  • Make note of instructions, word limits and submission format Be compliant!
  • Try to understand what each question is asking and why they are being asked. Answer the Question
  • Note the scoring / weighting of criteria. Spend time / effort on your response accordingly
  • Anything you are not sure of, contact the buyer (but be aware that any question you ask will be notified to other suppliers)
  • Answer all questions honestly and be keen and positive in your responses (emphasise your USP).
  • Double check your response / second pair of eyes
  • Ensure you complete and submit all the documents required
  • Make careful note of the deadline and make sure you submit well in advance of the deadline (Avoid last minute submissions)
  • If unsuccessful (or successful) ask for a debrief
tender sources
Tender Sources


For one to one support contact:

  • Email: or
  • Tel: 0191 284 4949